How Will I Know It’s Time for My Elderly Loved One to Stop Driving?
Convincing your older loved one it’s time to stop driving is an emotionally charged, difficult conversation to have. You don’t want her to feel as if she’s losing her independence, but you also have to carefully balance her safety and the safety of others with her autonomy.
Because of how difficult this conversation can be, you may want to wait as long as possible before taking the car keys. But how do you know it’s time for your senior loved one to stop driving for good?
Here are 5 signs it’s really time for your loved one to stop driving:
A little bit of getting lost is completely normal, no matter your age. Navigating a new area, letting your mind wander a little and missing a turn, or just going on autopilot and not realizing you’re going somewhere else – It happens to everyone.
But if your loved one frequently gets lost going to places that should be extremely familiar – the grocery store, church, or your house – it may be a sign that his memory isn’t what it used to be. With this memory loss comes decreased reaction time, lower likelihood of following traffic rules, and the possibility of getting into an unsafe situation.
If your relative calls you more than a couple times, or even gets found by police somewhere well away from where he intended to be, it may be time to discuss giving up driving.
Having one ticket is nothing to really worry much about. But if your loved one suddenly seems to be a magnet for law enforcement and racks up tickets or warnings for running stop signs, crossing into the wrong lane of traffic, or improper speed, it may be a sign that it’s time she should stop driving.
An increase in traffic citations means an increase in unsafe driving practices, which can put your loved one and other people on the road in great danger. These increases could be the result of poor eyesight, decreasing reaction time, memory problems, or a health condition. No matter what the reason, more tickets means it’s time for your loved one to stop driving for good.
Near-Misses & Fender-Benders
If your loved one is backing into parked cars, gets pulled over for almost getting in an accident, or hits other drivers, this is a big sign it’s time for her to hand over the keys.
Slower reaction time, memory problems, and poor eyesight are possible causes of increased traffic accidents and near-misses. No matter what, this means your loved one is a safety risk to other drivers and should not be on the road.
Unsafe Driving Habits
If you suspect your loved one may be having issues with safe driving, it may be a good idea to take a ride with him in the driver’s seat and note any unsafe behavior. Running stop signs, stopping at green lights, and weaving in and out of the lane are all dangerous and could lead to accidents.
You can also have a driving school or other trained professional assess your loved one’s driving abilities. Some occupational therapists can perform driving safety evaluations, and you’ll be given a report on whether or not your loved one is able to continue to drive.
As people age, they become more susceptible to certain health conditions. Many of these conditions, or the medications that accompany treatment of these conditions, make it unsafe for people to operate cars. If your loved one suffers from any of the following conditions, it’s best to talk to his or her doctor about whether driving is still safe:
- Dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease
- Problems with hearing or vision
- Parkinson’s disease
- Any conditions that require medications that could impair driving ability, such as anti-anxiety medications, sleeping pills, or narcotics
Regardless of the reason why you feel it’s time for your loved one to stop driving, it won’t be an easy conversation to have. Be respectful, loving, and make sure to reiterate that you’re concerned for his safety. If necessary, bring in professionals to help you show your loved one why it no longer is safe for him to drive.
Senior Transportation Services in Frederick & Montgomery Counties, MD
If your elderly loved one is no longer able to drive, helping her maintain her independence while living at home can be a challenge. Public transportation may not be accessible, and you and other family members aren’t always available to give rides.
At Advanced Nursing & Home Support, we realize that getting out and about is crucial to helping keep seniors active and happy. We offer safe, reliable senior transportation services to doctor’s appointments, social gatherings, and church services, taking some of the pressure and worry off you while allowing Mom or Dad to maintain the active lifestyle they’re used to. Call us today for more information!